Close Up

10 March 2023: Obedience


Stanley Milgram, 1965, 75 min
UK premiere of the new restoration

Introduced by Peter Conheim 

“Psychologist Stanley Milgram’s legendary – and controversial – “Obedience to Authority” experiments, conducted at Yale University in the United States, have been analysed, repeated multiple times by others and dramatized (most notably in Michael Almeryeda’s Experimenter, 2015, but nothing captivates and disturbs quite like the film of the actual experiments taking place, Milgram’s Obedience (…).

With the Nuremberg trials, and the 1961 trial of Nazi conspirator Adolf Eichmann, still smouldering in the public consciousness, and Hannah Arendt’s seminal writings on Eichmann introducing the concept of “the banality of evil”, Milgram conducted a series of experiments in which “teachers” (community members who answered a classified ad, believing they were taking part in a memory study) were paired with “learners”. The “teacher” subjects were instructed – by a lab-coated “experimenter” – to quiz learners on a pre-determined series of questions and answers. If the learner answered correctly, they would move on to the next question. If the learner answered incorrectly, he would receive a jolt of pain from a “shock generator” controlled by the teacher, with increasing voltage (and pain) with each incorrect answer. No matter the learner’s protestations and cries of pain, the teacher was always instructed to repeat variations of: “please continue the experiment”… but only the “learner” knew the whole setup was a fiction, intended to test a person’s ability to resist brutal orders. Generally only seen in educational settings, Obedience has been fully restored and screens here publicly for the first time.” – Peter Conheim

Some outtakes from the film will be screened for the first time after the main feature.

Never on Sunday is a series of screenings of rare classics, archive masterpieces, obscure delights and forgotten gems carefully curated and introduced by Ehsan Khoshbakht and taking place the last Sunday of each month at Close-Up.